An official estimate of the total number of deaths caused by the pandemic has finally been released, and the shocking tally is worse than expected.
The Covid-19 pandemic has killed up to three times more people globally than previously thought.
This is the conclusion of the World Health Organization which says that potentially 10 million more people have died than officially recorded.
Australia, however, is one of the few Covid silver nations where the pandemic has actually led to fewer people dying overall.
According to WHO excess mortality data released Thursday, between 13.3 and 16.6 million people died from Covid in 2020 and 2021, up to three times the number of deaths previously attributed directly to the disease.
The long-awaited estimate of the total number of deaths caused by the pandemic, including the lives lost due to its ripple effects, finally puts a number on the broader impact of the crisis.
“New estimates from the World Health Organization show that the entire death toll associated directly or indirectly with the Covid-19 pandemic between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (from 13.3 million to 16.6 million) “, the United States This was stated by the health agency of Nations in a statement.
The figure calculates what is called excess mortality due to the Covid-19 crisis, which has shocked much of the planet for more than two years.
“These sobering data not only indicate the impact of the pandemic, but also the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can support essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems. “said WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Dead by impact
The excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would have been expected in the absence of the pandemic, based on data from previous years.
The excess mortality includes deaths directly associated with Covid-19, due to the disease and indirectly to the impact of the pandemic on health systems and society.
Countries with the highest number of total excess deaths included Russia, Indonesia, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Peru, WHO data concludes. The numbers for Russia are three and a half times the deaths recorded in the country. While in Egypt, nearly 12 times more people are thought to have died from Covid than reported.
Australia had fewer deaths overall
Countries with lower excess mortality rates included China, which is still pursuing a “zero Covid” policy of mass testing and quarantine, Australia, which has imposed strict travel restrictions to keep the virus out of the country , Japan and Norway, the BBC reported.
A lower excess mortality means that fewer people died in Australia during the registration period than would have been expected in a standard year. Potentially, measures to prevent the spread of Covid could have had other unexpected effects. For example, social distancing has led to fewer deaths from the flu or fewer road accidents.
WHO declared Covid an international public health emergency on January 30, 2020, after cases of the novel coronavirus spread beyond China.
Countries around the world have reported 5.42 million deaths from Covid-19 to WHO in 2020 and 2021, a figure that now stands at 6.24 million, including deaths in 2022.
The Geneva-based organization has long said that the real number of deaths would be much higher than the recorded deaths alone attributed to Covid infections.
Deaths indirectly linked to the pandemic are attributable to other conditions for which people could not access treatment because health systems were overloaded by the crisis.
The WHO said most of the excess deaths – 84% – were concentrated in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas.
In fact, 10 countries alone accounted for 68% of all excess deaths. High-income countries accounted for 15% of excess deaths; upper-middle-income nations 28%; Lower-middle-income states 53%; and low-income countries four percent.
The global death toll was higher for men than for women – 57% male, 43% female – and higher among the elderly.
“Measuring excess mortality is an essential component in understanding the impact of the pandemic,” said Samira Asma, WHO Deputy Director-General for Data, Analysis and Distribution.
He said changes in mortality trends provide decision makers with the information they need to guide practices that can reduce mortality rates and prevent future crises.
“These new estimates use the best available data and were produced using a robust methodology and a fully transparent approach.”
WHO said the figure of 14.9 million was produced by the world’s leading experts who have developed a methodology for generating estimates where data is lacking.
Many countries lack the capacity for reliable mortality surveillance and therefore do not generate the necessary data to calculate excess mortality rates, but they can do so using publicly available methodology.
Originally published as The death toll of Covid three times higher than the first thought: WHO report